Ronald J. Schmitz was born near Ionia, Iowa on April 25, 1934. He attended a one-room country school through the eighth grade and then, as was not uncommon at the time, decided to forgo high school and work on his father’s farm. At age 18, he joined the United States Navy. He served as an Electricians Mate, spending much of his enlistment at sea and made a round-the-world cruise aboard the USS Saipan.
In the Navy, Ron found an interest in and an aptitude for technology and recognized the need for further education. He completed a GED program in the Navy and, when he was discharged, enrolled in electrical engineering at Iowa State University. He received all his degrees there, finishing his doctorate in 1967.
In the Fall of 1967, he accepted appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City. He was involved in various research activities and directed both masters and doctoral students, but his strongest interest was always in teaching. Ron was a consummate teacher, patient with students who were having difficulty but intolerant of sloth. He received the School of Mines Teaching Award in 1975 and the Western Electric Fund Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1981.
Dr. Schmitz was very active in the IEEE, especially the Education Society, and served as Secretary Treasurer of the Society. He was also active in ERM and attended, and contributed to, many Frontiers in Education Conferences. He served as general chair of FIE ‘81 in Rapid City.
Ron was an avid hunter and fisherman, a devoted husband and father and a faithful friend. He served his church as Lector and Lay Minister and was active as a Boy Scout leader.
Ron contracted cancer in 1983 and died on July 19, 1984. Ron’s wife, Carol, lives in New Hampton, Iowa and his children, four sons and a daughter, live in various cities around the United States.
The Ronald J. Schmitz Award recognizes his many contributions to the Frontiers in Education Conference and the high esteem in which he is held by his many friends and colleagues.
Contributed by Lyle D. Feisel.